The Liverpool Empire Showstoppers Review
Show Date:- 19th April 2016
Theatre – Liverpool Empire
The Company – Liverpool Empire Creative Learning
Intro & Background
We were eagerly invited along by Showstoppers cast member and promising star, Georgia Mason who is just one of a huge group of very talented people from The Liverpool Empire Creative Learning department. This was the second time we had been invited to the Liverpool Empire. Georgia invited us over to watch last years (2015) musically fun filled epic, Legally Blonde, so when she invited us over to see their very first Showstoppers production, we could hardly say no.
Showstoppers is a full musical showcase of the best of the best of their favorite productions. The Liverpool Creative Learning initiative is a great organisation made up of totally armature actors of all ages, giving each of them a great grounding in musical theatre and feeding their keen and hungry appetites, allowing them to take step forwards for bigger and better things within the theatrical world.
Based at the empire, they put on at least one big production each year culminating with the Showstopper showcase at the beginning of the following year. This gives local audiences a chance to see some of the iconic and popular numbers from their past productions, while also giving them a chance to appreciate the high standards of singing, dancing and acting they are going to see in the coming year.
The first number in a show like this is so important as it sets the mood and the standard for the rest of the show. If the first group of performers were nervous or worried about it, it didn’t show. Confidently breaking into a prologue of the “Little Shop Of Horrors”. We all sat back in our seats, happy and reassured that we were in for a Showstopping musical treat of song and dance!
The first half stepped in and out of some great numbers for the shows, delivering a mixture of great group vocal performances, strong solo spots and some well choreographed dance numbers.
From a technical standpoint, the sheer amount of ever changing vocalist performing on stage must have been like juggling smoke at certain points for the sound guys. Keeping track of who was up next and on what mic pack can’t have been easy and they alone need to be acknowledged for that. There were a few drop outs on the mics and a little interference from an outside source at one point beyond their control, but that is only to be expected when orchestrating so many users and mic packs at once.
Each of the solo performances that broke up the bigger numbers came across as strong and confident and recaptured that moment of emotion it needed from it’s respective musical. When not sandwiched into the original musical it can be hard to capture and put across emotionally what would have been happening in the previous scene without going through it.
The younger members of the Junior Youth Theartre were amazing and at times nearly stole the show. The level of commitment and professionalism shown by them was to be applauded. They sang, danced and acted as a team, supporting one another. They collectively held each number together very well.
In contrast as far as performance age goes, we were treated to the fine ladies of the Mature Movers Dance Group who stepped, danced and sang Cole Porter’s classic, “Anything Goes”. Again these wonderful ladies where another high point and added an element of light relief. I’m not taking anything away from them in any way, they were great. The audience quickly warmed to them as they weaved their way around the stage to their well choreographed routine.
All in all in the first half we took a journey through great numbers from the Little Shop Of Horrors, Matilda The Musical, Evita, Miss Saigon, Anything Goes, the Lion King and the epic Phantom Of The Opera. The whole cast took us into the interval with Masquerade, building up the on stage presence as each group joined the gathering company on stage. It was a big dramatic close to the first half which was rapturously applauded by the whole audience.
Curtain up for the second half…
Act two followed on with the same great enthusiasm and passion that the first half had. Launching into great foot-tapping theme, “Fame” (Melissa Macaulay), which immediately lifted everyone after the calm of the interval. This followed by “These Are My Children” preformed by the Youth Musical Theatre’s Jessica Mahoney and then “Out On My Own” by Olivia Doyle, each, stars in the making.
“Somewhere Over The Rainbow” followed with also great numbers from the alternative re-telling of the story of The Wizard Of Oz, “The Wiz” made famous originally by Michael Jackson in the 70’s.
The Mature Movers Dance Group made a return visit to the stage with “December 63” form the Jersey Boys stage musical. There was a lot of choreography going on in this number and it showed, but the ladies managed to hold it together, giving an applaudable and fun performance.
We moved through Ghost, The Little Mermaid, Carousel and on to Emily Williams and her portrayal of Anna in The King And I singing the iconic “Getting To Know You” to the younger cast members from the Junior Youth Theatre. Each great renditions, each holding our complete attention and each being rewarded very warmly with a round of applause and some whoops and a hollers as well from the family members in the audience, and who could blame them.
There’s not much bigger in the world of musical theatre than Les Miserables, so we had to be treated to a couple of numbers form that. Initially Esme Bowdler and her rendition of “Stars” followed by the marvelous four divas made up of Kaitlin Beecham, Sophia Cavalluzzi, Jessica Jones and the delightful Georgia Mason belting out I Dreamed A Dream and On My Own. This slot so I’m reliably informed was added relativity at the last minute with only a couple of weeks notice to put it together, but they accomplished it very well and each gave a very strong and powerfully charged performance. Extremely well done, ladies.
We finally slipped into three numbers from Mary Poppins, Step In Time, Feed The Birds and culminating with everyone’s favorite “Supercalifragilisticexpialidoucious” as the whole company took to the stage and joined in. It was obvious by the smiles on their faces at this point that they too had really enjoyed it and seamed very pleased with their performance, with and element of relief as well. As the number came to and end and they did their curtain call, it was easy to see that the were very emotionally charged and pleased with what they had all collectively accomplished.
Without the need for sets, scenery, props or even full character costume, each cast member of the company, vividly painted a musical picture in our minds of the musical each number was from. A showcase like this lets you focus on the actors and helps to highlight their vocal talents and dancing abilities, putting them very much in the spotlight. They all came up trumps and delivered a real Showstopper in every sense of the word.
Another great evening at the Liverpool Empire, sung and danced by local people, young and old, all working together to raise a curtain on a great performance and close it proving that there is real hardworking and talent in Merseyside brought to us by some very passionate and committed stars of the future and some who are just more than happy to do what they do, very well.
Well done again Liverpool Empire Creative Learning, the Showstoppers cast, choreographers, musical directors, producers and back stage hands. You pulled out all the stops and delivered.
Before I left, I nipped to the stage door and met up with Georgia Mason and fellow cast member Jessica Mahoney and had a quick word with them about the night…
Many thanks – Dave Bradley (owner & reviewer for 20 20 Exposure)